Helium isotope signature of lithospheric mantle xenoliths from the Permo-Carboniferous magmatic province in Scotland — no evidence for a lower-mantle plume
L. A. Kirstein, T. J. Dunai, G. R. Davies, B. G. J. Upton, I. K. Nikogosian, 2004. "Helium isotope signature of lithospheric mantle xenoliths from the Permo-Carboniferous magmatic province in Scotland — no evidence for a lower-mantle plume", Permo-Carboniferous Magmatism and Rifting in Europe, M. Wilson, E.-R. Neumann, G. R. Davies, M. J. Timmerman, M. Heeremans, B. T. Larsen
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Noble gas studies of well-characterized spinel-peridotite-facies lithospheric mantle xenoliths and garnet megacrysts from Scottish Permo-Carboniferous dykes, sills and vents demonstrate that the mantle beneath Scotland during the late Palaeozoic was more radiogenic than the source of mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB). The samples were collected from the Northern Highland Terrane and the Midland Valley Terrane, which vary from Archaean-Proterozoic to Proterozoic-Palaeozoic in age. Helium isotope ratios of between 3Ra and 6 Ra (Ra = atmospheric ratio) indicate that there has been time-integrated U-Th enrichment of the subcontinental mantle. This enriched mantle was preferentially melted following the transition from early Palaeozoic compression to late Palaeozoic extensional tectonics. Helium isotope ratios provide no clear evidence for the presence of undegassed plume-type mantle beneath this part of Scotland during the Permo-Carboniferous. The measured helium ratios do not discount the presence of a low-helium plume similar to those of the European Cenozoic volcanic province. A passive origin, however, is preferred for the Permo-Carboniferous magmatism due to the protracted activity, relatively small-extruded volumes of mafic magma and the low-helium isotope ratios measured.
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Widespread extension occurred within the Variscan orogen and its northern foreland during Late Carboniferous to Early Permian times. This was associated with magmatism and with a fundamental change, at the Westphalian-Stephanian boundary, in the regional stress field, coincident with the termination of orogenic activity and onset of dextral translation between North Africa and Europe. Rifting propagated across basement terranes with different ages and thermal histories. Most of the rift basins developed on relatively thin lithosphere; however, the highly magmatic Oslo Graben initiated within the edge of a craton. Early Stephanian regional uplift is contemporaneous with the onset of magmatism, inviting speculation that it might have been induced by a thermal anomaly within the upper mantle. The contributions to this volume suggest that the geodynamic setting in which magmatism occurred was complex, involving wrench tectonics, slab detachment, and delamination or thermal erosion of the base of the lithosphere.